Film scholars often cite Dingjun Mountain as the first legitimate Chinese film. It was released in 1905. The majority of professional films were created in Shanghai during the earliest decades of the film industry. The action genre was a big hit with domestic audiences during the 1920s. When sound was invented it significantly altered the way that Chinese movies were shot. This started with a talkie called Sing-Song Girl Red Peony in 1931.
The 30s tends to be considered the first golden age for Chinese cinema. It coincided with the emergence of a leftist filmmaking movement. Many of the films in this period focused on conflicts between nationalists and communists. When Shanghai was occupied by Japanese forces, its film output was significantly diminished. As a result many filmmakers moved to Hong Kong.
Western audiences may sometimes believe that Chinese cinema is fairly niche. However, such views underestimate its popularity. In fact the Chinese film industry rivals that of Hollywood. This country is the home of the Oriental Movie Metropolis, the world’s biggest film studio. In terms of box office receipts China tends to be the second largest in the world annually. As a result many American films try to cater to Chinese audiences. For example, popular Chinese actors may be added to the cast of Hollywood productions.
At the same time many moviegoers around the world have embraced Chinese language films. In 2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a huge success around the world. In more recent years several animated films have managed to smash box office records. As a result this art form has been taken more seriously by mainstream Chinese film studios.